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Arto Hamalainen: The DNA of Spirit-Empowered Christians and Churches

Arto Hämäläinen, The DNA of Spirit-Empowered Christians and Churches (Halle, Belgium: PeaceLiterature, 2023), 147 pages, ISBN‎ 9798393077945.

If you read the biographical information about Dr. Hämäläinen on the back cover of the book you will see that he is very involved in both Pentecostalism and missions. Here are just two of the ministries that he has served in: the World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, he was its founding chairman, and the Asia Pentecostal Mission (back cover). He is also the co-author of To the Ends of the Earth: Building a National Missionary Sending Structure (Baguio City, Philippines: Asia Pacific Theological Seminary Press, 2020) which he wrote with Ulf Strohbehn [Editor’s note: read John Lathrop’s review]. The Holy Spirit and missions go together, Jesus connected the two in Acts 1:8. In that verse He said that the power of the Holy Spirit would enable His followers to be witnesses for Him.

The emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit is the key factor which has caused the Pentecostal church to grow.

The book consists of an introduction, 3 major sections, and a conclusion. In the introduction the author speaks about the significance and impact of the Pentecostal Movement as well as the negative, and sometimes narrow, views that some people have of it (pages 7-8). Hämäläinen writes to identify the key factors that have made the Pentecostal Movement the dynamic force that it is today in many places in the world (pages 7, 9). In the introduction he also sets forth how the material in the book is arranged (page 8). One significant point that he makes in these opening pages is that one who truly has Pentecostal DNA will see the power of the Holy Spirit as the help we need to carry on the work of evangelistic outreach (page 8). As the introduction closes, he urges readers to closely examine the foundations of Pentecostalism, which are the same foundations as those of the early church, he states that the emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit is the key factor which has caused the Pentecostal church to grow (page 9).

Section 1 of the book is called “Vital Aspects of the Holy Spirit” (pages 5,10). Hämäläinen says that this section deals with “matters related to the actions of the Holy Spirit” (page 8). After an introductory section the remainder of this section is divided into five subcategories (page 5). He writes about why the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is important (pages 10-16), the purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit, which is equipping for outreach (pages 16-21), spiritual gifts (pages 22-48), the fruit of the Holy Spirit (pages 49-61), and how signs and wonders follow the preaching of the Word of God (pages 61-64).

In the earthly ministry of Jesus, in the early church, in church history, and today: signs and wonders follow the preaching of the Word of God.

Section 2 is called “The Triune God: The Core of the Pentecostal Message” (pages 5, 65). The author says that the topics in this section focus on “features connected to the nature and activities of the triune God” (page 8). After an introduction, the remainder of the section is made up of 4 subsections (page 5). These focus on an increased understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit (pages 69-74), Christ’s centrality (pages 74-80), how making Jesus our focus leads to worship and praise (pages 80-83), and the importance of the return of Christ for the Pentecostal with regard to biblical truth and practice (pages 84-88).

Section 3 is titled “Features Related to Church Activities” (pages 5, 89). The writer says that this section deals with “characteristics related to the activities of the church” (page 8), it contains 9 subcategories (page 5). These deal with: the importance of the local church, with considerable space given to the subject of water baptism (pages 89-95), evangelism and church growth (pages 95-98), revival and success (pages 99-102), the “Priesthood of All Believers” (pages 102-107), the central importance of the Bible (pages 107-113), a holistic view of humanity (pages 113-117), being culturally sensitive (pages 118-122), church unity (pages 123-128), balancing structure and the leadership of the Holy Spirit (pages 129-132), and prayer (pages 132-139).

The conclusion of the book is very brief, just 2 pages. In it the author references Psalm 71:18 in which the psalmist speaks about declaring God’s power to the next generation. This is Dr. Hämäläinen’s desire. He wants to point the younger generations to the time-tested truths that have produced great blessings to peoples around the globe (page 140). He believes that the ministry of the Holy Spirit has played a vital role in the growth and success of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements (pages 140-141). Near the beginning of the book he urged readers to “dig into the original foundations” which caused such tremendous growth in the early church (page 9). When we do we will have a truly biblical Pentecostal faith.

As one scans the topics mentioned above it becomes clear that a lot of ground is covered in this volume. Some of the material is decidedly Pentecostal in nature and some of the content would be held in common with other Bible-believing Christians. The author affirms the positive aspects of Pentecostalism, for example its belief in and reliance on the ministry of the Holy Spirit (page 9) but he also acknowledges some of its weaknesses. For example, some in the Pentecostal Movement adhere to a Word of Faith or prosperity gospel (page 101) and Pentecostalism has a reputation of fracturing or dividing (page 123). Dr. Hämäläinen is very familiar with the Pentecostal experience and movement. He was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was 12 years old (page 13). And his ministry involvements, which are listed on the back cover of the book, have put him in touch with Pentecostals around the world.

How should Spirit-filled believers be involved in their churches and engage the world?

Some of the contents of this book cover topics that Pentecostals and Charismatics are familiar with. But North American readers will likely learn some new things from it as well. First, they will be exposed to the ministry of a Pentecostal from outside of their own specific context (the author is based in Finland—see the back cover). Second, they can learn about Christian leaders who are not well-known names here in the USA, but who have had an impact in their own respective context. The DNA of Spirit-Empowered Christians and Churches has questions sprinkled throughout the text. Some are directed to leaders and some to individual believers. These questions offer the reader an opportunity to reflect upon what he or she has read. Some of the questions are personal, that is, they are for the reader to reflect upon their own life. Others engage the reader in thinking about the church that they are a part of. This book could serve as a good primer for what a Pentecostal church and believer can, and should, be. Some churches might consider using it as a text for a Bible study or Sunday school class. May we as Spirit-empowered believers seek to attain, or regain, the biblical DNA of Holy Spirit filled people.

Reviewed by John Lathrop


Further Reading

“The Importance of Baptism with the Holy Spirit” an excerpt from Arto Hämäläinen’s book, The DNA of the Spirit-Empowered Christians and Churches

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2023

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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